Tour de France Cycling News for July 13, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson
Stage 10 wrap: Armstrong back in control
Lance Armstrong back in yellow
Photo ©: Sirotti
Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) has regained control of the Tour
de France after just one day out of the yellow jersey, finishing second
behind Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) in today's opening Alpine stage
to Courchevel. Armstrong and Discovery Channel used exactly the same tactics
that have worked for them in the past, riding a murderous tempo on the
last climb with each team member pulling off until only Armstrong remained
with Valverde, his teammate Francisco Mancebo, and polka-dotted jersey
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank). All of the GC favourites lost time to Armstrong
today, and he now leads Rasmussen by 38 seconds, with Ivan Basso (CSC,
5th today) in third overall at 2'40.
The stage, which was shortened by 11.5 km because of a farmers' protest,
saw a breakaway of seven go away almost immediately, with Laurent Brochard
(Bouygues), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Yuri Krivtsov (Ag2r), Luís Sanchez
(Liberty Seguros), Gianluca Bortolami (Lampre), Mauro Facci (Fassa Bortolo),
and Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel Euskadi). The leaders gained 10'40 before Credit
Agricole and Discovery worked to bring them back. On the first climb,
the Cormet de Roselend, Jorg Jaksche (Liberty) and Oscar Pereiro (Phonak)
set off to bridge the by then 4'00 gap, which they succeeded in doing
before the start of the last climb.
Jaksche tried to stay away on his own, but it was to no avail as Armstrong's
men ripped the peloton to shreds on the lower slopes of the 22 km climb,
before he, Valverde, Mancebo and Rasmussen finished off the job with 6
km to go. Armstrong attacked in the final kilometre but couldn't shake
Valverde, who came around him with 100m to go to take a clear victory.
Stage 10 full results,
report & photos
Complete stage maps &
By Hedwig Kröner in Courchevel
Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Hailed as the greatest talent of Spanish cycling, 25 year-old Alejandro
Valverde has pursued his rising career in his first Tour de France, confirming
the high hopes his country's cycling community has put on him. Not only
taking the White jersey of best young rider, the Illes Balears rider made
a big impression by outsprinting Armstrong in the last meters of the 22.2
km climb to Courchevel.
At the start of stage 10 in Grenoble, Valverde told Cyclingnews,
"Today, above all, I have to try to be in front with Paco [Mancebo]. I
don't know about what attacks will be going on the first climb, but there
will surely be plenty of attacking on the second." And the day proved
to be very successful for both riders, as they were two of the three rare
companions of an ever more powerful Lance Armstrong in the last seven
"There are no words to express my happiness over this stage win," said
Valverde after the race. "Winning at the Tour is most important, even
more so in this stage. There really are no words for my feelings.
"Today was a great day for our team," he added. "I won the stage, and
Paco and myself have moved up on GC. Now, we have to recuperate and look
out on the next stages ahead."
Asked about his overall objectives for this Tour, Valverde replied, "One
of my big dreams has been accomplished today, the stage win. So now, I
will work for the team for the rest of the race, as Paco Mancebo is still
our undoubted leader. He's also very strong, and we want to see what we
can do to counter Armstrong, who appears to be as strong as ever."
Valverde suffered on the ascent to Courchevel, but still pursued with
the possible perspective of winning the stage. "The beginning of the climb
was extremely fast, at about 1000 km/h," he commented. "When Armstrong
attacked and we reached the final kilometres Lance told us to work with
him to keep up the speed, because it was such an important day for him.
He just said 'let's go flat out'. Of course our objective was to get into
the finish with him to try and take the stage."
When Valverde crossed the line just ahead of the American, he barely
raised his arms, his face expressing pure pain. "It was really hard,"
he explained, still shaking his head. "First, Rasmussen attacked and I
took his wheel. And after 500 metres, Armstrong went really fast, a
tope [flat out] and I managed to take his wheel. It was very difficult
and I nearly gave up... The only thing that made me drive on was imagining
how it would be to win that stage."
In one impressive effort, the young Spaniard made his wish come true,
but had trouble realizing the grandeur of his performance. "I'll only
realize what I've done in a couple of hours, thinking back on it. It's
such an important victory. But I have to continue looking ahead too on
the next stages and on the work that has to be done there," a down to
earth Valverde concluded.
T-Mobile blown off the back
By Hedwig Kröner in Courchevel
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti
It has been an oft-repeated scenario in the last years, and stage 10
of this year's biggest bike race saw it happening again: an even more
powerful Lance Armstrong took the yellow jersey on the first mountain
stage, and the German T-Mobile team lost precious minutes in the general
'Der Kaiser' Jan Ullrich finished 2'14" behind the Texan, after being
dropped as Armstrong gave his last helper Popovych the signal to accelerate
with 12 km to go on the ascent to Courchevel. The German is now placed
eighth behind Armstrong, at more than four minutes overall. Somewhat angry
and disappointed, Ullrich reflected on the reason of his weakness after
the stage. "The crash is probably still a little handicap but I wouldn't
have been able to get those two minutes even if I hadn't crashed," he
said. "I really fought today, and I didn't lose out completely. My time
loss is within certain limits, and the Tour will be over only in Paris."
The German is truly a great role model for persistence, as he will still
not let today's deception wear him down, even though this has happened
year after year, over and over again. "No, I won't give up. Last year,
I had very good legs in the end of the Tour. I did feel good today, but
of course I was in a little bit of pain from the crash. I don't know to
what extent that had an effect on my performance. I felt good until the
attack but then I blew up - too much lactic acid."
Ullrich did not think that he understimated the ascent to Courchevel
either. "I know this mountain - on top, it actually rolls pretty well
but once you're over the limit...I really have to thank Klödi who waited
for me. Of course I'm angry at the fact that I couldn't hold the pace,
but what can you do? Tomorrow is another day," he added.
Andreas Klöden, who helped his battling team captain, finished in the
same group as him. But the third of T-Mobile's trident, Alexandre Vinokourov,
could not hold Discovery's pace on that last climb and dropped off the
back of the group with 12 km to go. The Kazakh was visibly struggling
hard to hold on, but there was nothing he could do - he just seemed glued
to the tarmac.
"I lost a lot of time on GC today, but I hope I will be better tomorrow.
I will attack again," said Vino. It's hard, but I don't think we've lost
the Tour now. I hope that Jan and Klödi were better today...I don't know
anything yet. Who won?" he asked, as these words were his very first reaction
after rolling over the finish line. A little later, Vinokourov told Reuters,
"I'm not sure what happened. It's been a very bad day for me. The first
climb was tough, but we got over that. On the second one, I completely
Inside T-Mobile, team doctor Lothar Heinrich speculated that Vinokourov
had been the victim of a hunger knock, but the Kazakh denied this. He
said that he didn't know what it was that blocked him. "This wasn't the
Vino we all know," team director Mario Kummer concluded.
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Liberty Seguros's Jörg Jaksche was the last survivor of the early break
and battled to stay away on the climb to Courchevel, launching a brave
final solo attack 4km into the climb. It was not to be, as he was caught
with 10km to go. Jaksche still managed to stay with the Ullrich/Landis
Klöden group, eventually finishing the stage 2;19" behind Valverde and
Describing his condition after the stage in a team press release, Jaksche
said, "Now I am dead, dead, dead! I did a brutal effort to try to win
the stage, but I knew that it would be very difficult. When they caught
me I tried to continue and in the end I have not lost too much time. I
am satisfied with that, but I would have liked to have won, and for the
team to have finished better."
Jaksche's team-mates Roberto Heras and Joseba Beloki both had sufficiently
bad days that it wall take a miracle to put them into any sort of contention
for podium places. Heras finished 42nd, 9'49" down, and now lies 36th
on GC at 12'59". Joseba Beloki fared slightly better, but was still 5'36"
back in 26th and is now 21st on GC, 8'31" adrift.
After the stage, Beloki said, "I went very badly the whole day; I believe
that it has been a horrible stage for the whole team and also for me,
especially in the last climb. I was expecting more, but I admit that I
have gone too long without taking part in an important race and [today]
I felt it. There is still a lot of racing left and I expect to be able
to do better than today."
Heras said that he, "did not feel good from the beginning of the day
and at the end I was very bad. ... I do not what has happened to me, because
till now I felt very good. Because of that I hope that I was just having
a bad day, because I felt very good [before]. Simply, my legs were not
working today. I am now very far down in the general classification, but
still nope to see if I can recover the form that I had before. I have
suffered a very hard blow, but I will try to recover and tomorrow we will
see if it was only a bad day."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)